Consumer Alert: Dangerous Tires - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Consumer Alert: Dangerous Tires

It's important to properly check your tires to make sure they're safe. (Source: WOIO) It's important to properly check your tires to make sure they're safe. (Source: WOIO)
(WOIO) - You get in your car everyday probably never giving a second thought to your tires -- but you should. Forget the whole concept of getting better mileage if they're properly inflated. I'm talking about deadly accidents caused by bad tires that look just fine to your eyes.

It was a horrific accident last February when 30 high school baseball players and coaches were injured on a Louisiana highway. Four people in an SUV were killed, after the tread on the SUV's 10-year-old tires separated, causing the driver to spin out, cross the median, and slam into the school bus.

Now, the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration is getting involved in the tire age debate.

Some say aging tires, which may not show any visible wear and tear, can still be dangerous.

"If somebody gets killed or injured as a result of a product that looks perfectly fine, and yet the government knows it's not, and the industry knows it's not, that's wrong," says Sean Kane, of Safety Research & Strategies.

Kane thinks manufacture dates need to be clear and visible, and old tires need to be off the road.

"In terms of informing consumers, it's terrible. It doesn't work. No one would know that that's a date code," he says, pointing to a tire.

The date the tire was manufactured is difficult to read, even for people who sell tires. 

An undercover investigation captured the following conversation at a used tire shop:

Reporter: "So is that the date?"

Tire salesman: "No."

Reporter: "That's not the date? 09/03 is not the date?"

Tire salesman: "No."

Reporter: "Then what is the date?"

Tire salesman: "I don't know."

That was the date code on that more than 11-year-old tire. The salesman was staring right at it, still unable to read it.

Frank Baylor, a tire specialist knows how to read them and shares how you can crack the code.

"This was made in the 19th week of 2011. They always start with DOT. The last four numbers are the meat and potatoes. In this case, 9-14. This was made in the 19th week of 2014. So this tire is brand new," he says as he looks at a tire.

But Baylor says when someone sees a number their tire was made in 2007 or 2008, they don't need to panic and buy new tires immediately.

"No. It depends on if the car sits in the sun all day, or if it's in a climate-controlled garage. The sun and extreme heat does the damage," Baylor explains. "You can see some that are still in great shape up to eight and ten years. It depends on the quality of the tire."

"The data does not support expiration dates," says tire industry spokesman Dan Zelinski, who says the age of the tire really isn't that important. "A tire that's underinflated, or a tire that's been worn out or bald, is three times more likely to be cited as a critical event in a tire-related crash."

Kane disagrees. He says material degrades. And the real answer is littered along highways across the nation.

"Tire aging represents an invisible hazard," he adds.

A hazard you can sometimes see through dry rot and cracks. But sometimes, you can't see at all.

Read more information on worn tires here.

Click here for information on how to find the age of a tire.

Copyright 2015 WOIO. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly